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First-generation student Q&A: Charmayne Wyche

Randolph College is bringing a new honor society, Tri-Alpha, to campus.

Tri-Alpha, which celebrates the academic accomplishments of first-generation college students, will be led by the College’s Office of Identity, Culture, and Inclusion, and Carly Pearce, assistant director of Randolph’s Master of Arts in Coaching and Sport Leadership program.

An induction ceremony will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 8, National First-Generation to College Day.

As we prepare for the ceremony, we will be profiling some of Randolph’s first-generation students.

Charmayne Wyche, Director of Residence Life & Conduct

Hometown: Emporia, VA

College: Averett University

What did you study in college?

I majored in clinical/counseling psychology and minored in sociology.

What does it mean to you to be a first-generation student? 

To me, it means to be the one in your family taking a step of faith and venturing out into the uncharted territory that is college. You leave home without certain tools, knowledge, or experiences that others may have to help prepare. However, it also means walking into that uncharted territory untainted and uninfluenced by anyone else’s experiences or expectations with the complete ability to make your college experience your own. 

What are your memories of being a first-gen student? 

Honestly, I remember feeling overwhelmed and somewhat out of place. I was in a new city, living with a random person, and I felt that everyone was way better prepared for this new experience than I was. However, I remember reminding myself that I worked hard to get to this place, and I not only deserved but earned my spot at that institution. At that moment, I was able to be open to the experiences that shaped the professional I am today, create lifelong friendships, and overall, just have fun and make that experience what I wanted it to be. 

How did you become interested in your field of study and ultimate career path? 

I have always been interested in working with youth and being a mentor for students. I’ve often said that if I didn’t have administrators in school and a strong family unit, there is no way I would be where I am today. Therefore, I want to show up as that person for someone else. That person that helps teenagers and young adults while they are going through the transition of life. Higher education provides that opportunity for me to work with students who are in that transition and trying to figure out what’s next, what it means to live with someone, how to navigate difficult conversations, what do relationship building and boundary setting look like, what are the benefits of networking and professional development, etc. 

What advice would you give other first-gen students? 

Breathe. There is a learning curve, this is a new experience, you’re the first, and you feel the pressure, but breathe. You have the right to make this experience be what you want it to be. Allow yourself grace and have a willingness and eagerness to learn what you don’t know. It won’t be easy, and you will make mistakes (as we all do), but know that you will persevere and there is always a pathway back. The same way you had to persevere through high school and the same way you have persevered through life, you will make it through this experience. 

What is special about Randolph College?

Randolph College is unique in its approach to personalization and recognizing our students not as numbers, not as a quota that needs to be fulfilled, but as human beings. Randolph College takes great interest and pride in being student focused and centered in regards to always looking for innovative ways to create the best academic and overall collegiate experience for our students. 

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